Avian influenza and game bird shoots – what's permitted?

04 July 2023

A picture of three pheasants perched on a wall

What are the current rules around game bird shoots? We answer five questions members are frequently asking.

Use these links to jump to a particular question:

What precautions should be taken when operating a shoot?

All attendees should be mindful about reducing the potential for spreading the virus. This includes making sure that clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles are regularly cleansed and disinfected using Defra approved disinfectants. Visit: Defra |  Disinfectants Approved for use in England, Scotland and Wales. This is particularly important where attendees might be visiting multiple sites or where they have had contact with game birds, poultry, or other captive birds.

If you are hosting a shoot you should ask your guests to ensure they have cleansed and disinfected clothes, footwear, equipment, and vehicles ahead of attending the day.

If possible, you should have cleansing and disinfection facilities available on site.

Footbaths should be replaced regularly and should be covered to prevent rainwater from diluting the solution. It is good practise to provide a brush.

Can shooting take place within the PZ (Protection Zone) or SZ (Surveillance Zone) implemented around an infected premises?

Yes. Currently the shooting of gamebirds or other species is not restricted by the implementation of a 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone around sites where HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) has been identified. Any exceptions to this will be at the discretion of APHA and will be outlined in the disease control zone declaration which is published for each infected premises and can be found on: GOV.UK | Avian influenza (bird flu): cases and disease control zones in England

You can find out if you are in a disease control zone using the APHA’s interactive map.

If you are attending or hosting a shoot within a disease control zone, it is critical that you continue to observe all necessary cleansing, disinfection, and biosecurity measures, as stated above.

How should I deal with wild game birds shot within an HPAI PZ or SZ?

Biosecurity is key.

It is important to avoid actions that could potentially spread infection from shot wild birds to any kept birds.

Appropriate cleansing, disinfection and biosecurity measures should be taken, relevant to the location of the activity and the likelihood of contact with infected birds.

Restrictions on movement of shot game birds can be applied at the discretion of Defra and the APHA and where applicable are specified in the declaration of the disease control zone.

Gamekeepers and shoot managers should check the declaration for the disease control zone they are in to make sure there are no additional restrictions applied for meat from shot game birds.

Where can I obtain further information?

The Game Farmers Association have put together guidance on game birds and shooting. This is endorsed by Defra, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and DAERA in Northern Ireland and can be found at: GFA | Bird flu and Gamebirds: standing advice

You can also find information at:


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